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Mailbag: On Rich Rodriguez’s hot seat, possible head coach candidates, QB recruits, and more

Answering your questions!

Utah v Arizona Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

This has been a wild, and mostly bad, week for the Arizona Wildcats.

But we already did one mailbag this week about basketball-related things, so we’re changing it up this time.

Here we go.

Is Jamarye Joiner the only quarterback Arizona is recruiting?

No he isn’t. However, the other two players that I know that they have continued to pursue are committed.

One is Jack Tuttle, a 4-star passer from San Marcos, Calif, who is committed to Utah. The other is Purdue commit Jack Plummer, a 3-star out of Gilbert.

Out of the two I’d say Plummer is one I’d still pay the most attention to, and UA is going to continue to recruit them until they are given a solid no.

Now there can always be someone we aren’t aware of yet that will come up later in the season, but as of right now that is who I’m tracking.

To be honest, I like how Joiner has developed as a passer. He is night-and-day different from last season and continues to put together a strong year for Cienega.

— Brandon Combs

If the ‘Cats don’t make a bowl game, is Rich Rod gone? What is Heeke thinking?

I do think Rich Rodriguez will be let go if Arizona fails to make a bowl game, which is becoming increasingly likely after the losses to Houston and Utah.

Arizona had its lowest attendance at a football game since 1997 last weekend, and a major problem is there’s a large amount of apathy among UA football fans — and it’s understandable. The team has regressed mightily since winning the Pac-12 South, and the product on the field is one of the worst in the Pac-12.

Bringing in a new coach would not only put Arizona in a better position to build a more competitive team (in my opinion, at least), it would also re-energize the fanbase.

As much as Arizona is a basketball school, football is the moneymaker for college athletic departments, so UA cannot afford to let the football program continue its demise.

And the fact that Dave Heeke wasn’t the one who brought Rodriguez to Tucson should make his decision easier to parse.

You do have to wonder how basketball’s instability affects things here, though.

— Ryan Kelapire

What fall sport (aside from basketball or football) is poised to make a postseason run?

Last year that was volleyball, but that team is rebuilding this year, so I’m thinking soccer.

Coach Tony Amato has said Arizona is playing their best soccer since he took over the program in 2013. That includes the 2015 team that reached the program’s first Sweet 16.

As someone who’s covered the team since that 2015 season, I agree with him.

The Wildcats are 4-3-2, but are better than their record shows.

Two of their losses were heartbreakers — they fell 2-1 to No. 13 UCF in Tempe despite having a 1-0 lead with 13 minutes left in regulation, and then lost to Florida Gulf Coast, despite outshooting the Eagles 19-2.

Their third loss was a 1-0 defeat to No. 2 Stanford in Palo Alto (nobody beats that team there).

Arizona has to finish over .500 to make the NCAA Tournament and their next three games are insanely difficult — No. 11 Cal, No. 1 UCLA, No. 10 USC — but if they do reach the tournament, they can compete with just about anyone.

They have beaten plenty of good teams already — Texas Tech, BYU, Oregon, then-No. 16 Oklahoma — and might have the most talent in the program’s history. Plus, they are battled-tested because of teams they face week in and week out in the Pac-12.

— Ryan Kelapire

If Rich Rodriguez gets fired, who do you think we would target to fill the job?

The No. 1 target our readers always mention is Joe Salave'a, a former Wildcat who was recently hired as Oregon’s defensive line coach.

He’s regarded as one of the up-and-coming coaches in college football, and Willie Taggart seemed to take note, nabbing him from Washington State.

And not only is Salave'a a UA alum, he was the school’s defensive line coach under Mike Stoops from 2010-12 (he wasn’t retained by Rich Rodriguez, which was probably a mistake).

Salave'a would presumably be able to rekindle the Polynesian recruiting pipeline that has been non-existent in the RichRod era.

Chuck Cecil, hired by Arizona in July as the Director of Player Development, is also a popular name (though mostly because of his legendary status as a former Arizona player).

Cecil doesn’t have any head coaching experience (or any experience coaching at the collegiate level), but he was a defensive coordinator in the NFL for several seasons, so he probably has the gravitas from an X’s and O’s standpoint. The biggest question mark would be his recruiting ability.

And when/if Butch Jones gets fired at Tennessee, people will probably throw his name into the mix because Heeke once hired him at Central Michigan.

But I wouldn’t be surprised if Heeke tries to hire a top coordinator in the country, rather than a retread coach. Most importantly, he needs to hire someone that would bring intrigue to the program.

— Ryan Kelapire

How are all of our basketball alum guys doing? Did Nick Johnson get a NBA deal?

We’ll just go ahead and list where some of Arizona’s former players landed this offseason.